Praying Like Jesus Prayed
by Donnie V. Rader
When I think of the prayers that our Lord offered, two passages come to mind: Mark 1:35 and Luke 6:12. The reason being — these two verses are full of practical principles about prayer. “Now in the morning, having risen a long while before daylight, He went out and departed to a solitary place; and there he prayed” (Mark 1:35). “Now it came to pass in those days that He went out to the mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God” (Luke 6:12).
The prayers of Jesus set wonderful examples for us to imitate. They give us the opportunity to examine our own praying to see how it measures up. One’s spiritual life and maturity is measured by his or her praying. Prayer is the “dipstick” to measure the level of our spirituality. When you pull the dipstick out of the engine of your car or truck to check the oil, you will see one of two things. The oil level will either be on the full mark or it will be below it. Seldom will you find that you have too much oil. The same is true as we examine our praying. We may find that we are as spiritual and prayerful as we ought to be. It is also very possible that we will find that we are lacking in prayer due to a lack of spirituality. I doubt that anyone will find that they are overflowing to the point that they need to “drain” a little.
Let’s look at our own praying in view of the prayers of Jesus.
Jesus Prayed In A Solitary Place
Mark tells us that Jesus went to a “solitary place” to pray. Luke tells us he went to the mountain to pray. Both texts suggest a quiet place that was free from distractions where he could concentrate on the words spoken to his Father. Jesus well understood that prayer must be from the heart and not just a recital of words or phrases.
While in a context of showing a contrast between an outward display of prayer and prayer offered in sincerity, Matt. 6:6 may also give us some insight to praying in a place that is conducive for praying. Jesus said, “But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut the door, pray to your Father… ”
Prayer was important enough for Jesus to go to a place to pray. It wasn’t that he just happened to be in a solitary place or in the mountains when he decided to pray. He went there for the purpose of praying.
We probably wouldn’t do what a few denominationalist would do by going to a chapel or “house of worship” for prayer. We well understand that prayer can be offered anywhere, anytime. However, maybe our friends have learned something that we could use, that being the value of a place that allows us to pray without distraction.
In a busy, noisy and crowded place it is easy to let our minds wander or rush through a prayer. With the TV blaring, the telephone ringing, the doorbell chiming and the children playing, it is difficult to think about praying.
Where do you pray? Is it the kind of place where Jesus would attempt to talk to his Father? Is it one that is helpful to your praying? Find a place that is solitary and conducive for prayer. For one, it may be in the bedroom at night or in the early morning hours. For another, it may be in the bathroom or in the shower. For some, it may be in the quietness of the office. And yet, another may find the living room to be the best. Others may go to a field, the barn, the woods or the basement. Wherever it is, prayer is worth finding a place to pray.
Jesus Made Time To Pray
There is a difference in praying as one has the time or as he can find the time and in making time to pray. There is also a difference in praying because one has the time on his hands and in making time to pray. Jesus got up early, rising before daylight, just so he could pray. He did this in the midst of a very busy schedule.
Sometimes we are so busy in the mornings getting showers, eating breakfast, getting the kids off to school and going to work that little or no time is left to pray. Our days and evenings are packed full of work and family activities. When night comes we are so tired that we fall asleep while trying to pray. Thus, another day passes without praying as we should. I said sometimes this is true. Hopefully, this scenario does not describe all or most of God’s people.
Prayer is important enough to lose sleep or get up early in order to make the time for it. Make time in your schedule for prayer when you are most alert and your mind is clear and spend some time talking to your God.
Jesus Had A Lot About Which To Pray
I have often wondered about the statement, “and continued all night in prayer to God.” I wonder if this means that Jesus offered one continual prayer or were there several prayers broken by moments of rest and meditation? I wonder if through the night he ever repeated a thought, thanksgiving or request or did the night consist of prayer for different things? Any of these possibilities would seem to harmonize with the text.
However you may interpret this text, Jesus did a lot of praying. This does not suggest that our prayers must be long. It does, however, suggest that we too have a lot about which we can and should pray. The list is endless. We have much for which to be thankful: a wealth of spiritual blessings, an abundance of material blessings, friends, brethren and family. If we were to specify just some of these blessings, we would be praying a lot.
There are many expressions of praise and adoration that can be given to our Father. When we begin to praise him for his creation, his wisdom, his power and might, we again will have a lot to say in our prayers. A look at the Psalms will be helpful in this area.
Then as we begin to make requests for help, strength, protection, wisdom, the weather and forgiveness, we again will have a lot to express before God.
A lot of time could be spent in making intercessions for the rulers of our nation, alien sinners, erring children of God, those weak in the faith, the sick, elders, preachers and others for whom we have love and concern. If the sinless Son of God needed to spend a lot of time praying, there must be a need for me to spend some time doing the same.
Jesus Prayed Before An Important Decision
I don’t know all that Jesus said in his prayer in Luke 6, but, choosing his disciples must have been on his mind for the context shows that when he had finished his praying, he immediately selected his twelve.
When we face great decisions in life, it is a time to ask for wisdom that will aid us in making such decisions (Jas. 1:5). Before making major decisions like getting married, having children, a job, college, selecting elders or a preacher, or taking on some considerable responsibility, we ought to approach the throne of God and ask for his help.
Jesus left us an example of prayer to follow (1 Pet. 2:21). We should try our best to imitate what we see in him. Our first efforts may seem a little feeble, much like a first grader trying to make his ABC’s just like the example on the board. Yet, with practice, our own efforts take on a form that looks more and more like the Master’s.
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